Tag Archives: children

New Year’s Resolution… Read to the Baby

Making New Year’s Resolutions seems to be a bit passe, but I still like to do it. It gives me a chance to reflect on what’s working well or not so well, what I’d like to do more of, projects I’d like to complete. And of course, you could do it at any time, but the New Year seems to offer the perfect timing. The clock ticks over and boom, you’re into working on your goal.

Now, from the title of this post, my New Year’s Resolution might seem a bit strange for a book blogger. What do you mean you don’t read to your baby? Don’t you know the importance of reading to babies and young children?

Well, here’s the thing. I read to Phoebe, my now three and a half year old constantly. From the moment I brought her home from hospital, I read her newspaper articles while she was feeding, books as soon as she was old enough to keep her eyes open to look at them, sang her songs… she had stories for fun in the day, stories before naps, bedtime stories… she loves books and loves to take herself off and “read” by herself.

But the baby…. the baby does not like being read to. Erin likes books, don’t get her wrong. If anything she has a paper fetish, but she sees them more as a snack. Should you leave her unattended with a board book for even half a minute, she will have eaten the spine and you’ll be fishing it out of her mouth. I try and read her bedtime stories but she throws herself backwards howling with rage when she doesn’t get to chew the pages… It doesn’t make for a relaxing bedtime when The Very Hungry Caterpillar has you in tears. So I need new strategies for reading to the baby and my new year’s resolution is to develop a range of strategies to start reading to a baby who doesn’t like books.

This is what happened to one of her Christmas board books when I turned my back the other day….

 

I trained as an English teacher so I have a pretty good understanding of active reading strategies and ways of getting older learners who are reluctant to engage with books to engage with books and I was talking to my MIL who is a primary school teacher about this to see if she had any tips for helping babies engage with books. Apparently their father was the same and would be happy enough to listen to a story if he was allowed to run around like a lunatic while he did it, but wouldn’t sit and cuddle and enjoy one. Apparently her health visitor told her that all children are either dissectors (who want to examine things very carefully) or destroyers (well, you know…) and it would seem that I have one of each.

In some ways that’s reassuring because it means that Erin is at least experiencing the passive benefits of me reading to Phoebe while she plays happily on the floor, so it would be nice to have some devoted one on one story time. I’ve already tried letting her pick the books, reading touchy feely books, trying different reading times and places but all she wants to do is gnaw on the books. I’ve tried making sure she has a teething toy and a fully belly as well!

My next line of attack will be to look at more active storytelling, since she loves being danced with and nursery rhymes which you perform with/on her physically. I’m thinking story baskets and puppets as a first line of attack. In the meantime, her current favourite toy is an indestructible book that my friend bought her for Christmas. They look and feel like real paper but are completely chew proof (and believe me she’s tried) so I might see if I can find more of those as an interim solution. If I’m not allowed to read them to her, at least she can enjoy turning their pages!

We’ll get there eventually. In the meantime, the phrase, “Not in your mouth!!!” is very versatile.

Baby bookworm. She literally eats books. She just won’t read them.

How to make a bookish 3D star ornament

crafts for kids 3d star ornament christmas decoration or placemarkerFor day two of my 12 days of blogmas I wanted to make some bookish star place holders that were inspired by these lovely thanksgiving pumpkins. A larger star would make a good photo holder.

What I really like about these is that you could make tiny versions to hang from the tree. They’d be good to make with older children as a STEAM craft activity as they’d have to work out the best way to rotate the shapes and how to coordinate the cut lines to create a 3D shape. Thicker card is best for this to ensure that the final star decoration keeps its shape and stands up independently.

Younger children will probably need a lot of help with this and an adult to do the cutting. When I made them, Phoebe decorated her own 2D shapes that I’d cut out ahead of time while I sat with her and made my 3D stars.

To make a 3D star place holder or ornament you will need:

  • A star template if you don’t want to draw free hand (I used a biscuit cutter)
  • Gold card
  • Decorative paper (book pages in this instance)
  • Scissors and/or craft knife
  • Glue stick
  • A needle
  • Fine wire to mount a piece of card or string to hang

How to make a 3D star:

  1. Trace matching star shapes onto the wrong side of your gold card and cut out.
  2. Smear the wrong side of the card shape with glue and stick on your decorative paper so that the gold side of the card is facing up. Allow to dry.
  3. Cut around the stars on the decorative paper so you have a star that is gold on one side with decorative paper on the other.
  4. Take two stars and sing a scissors or craft knife, carefully cut a line half way through the star- one from the top to the centre of a star, and on the other star from the bottom to the middle.
  5. Slot the two stars together through these cuts so they stand up by themselves.
  6. Using the needle, carefully poke holes through the top of the star, then thread with wire or string.
  7. To make a place holder, curl the wire in a spiral and then flatten as in my picture so that the name for the placeholder can be slotted in between the wire.

How to make a paper bird ornament

Five minute paper bird craft christmas robin easy for kidsAs part of the twelve days of blogmas I wanted to make some book themed Christmas ornaments, and I’m hoping to post one a day for the first twelve days of December.

I wanted to start with these simple paper bird decorations, which require no origami skills whatsoever but look really cute when the are finished. They’re a perfect craft for children as they really are a five-minute craft. I’ve given my paper bird decorations literary themed by covering them with pages from a damaged book, but you could easily use coloured card and bright embellishments to make them appealing for children.

 

 

To make a paper bird ornament you will need:

  • A bird shaped template (I drew around biscuit cutters)
  • Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Two old book pages
  • Gold pen
  • Padded double-sided tape
  • Decorative thread
  • A yarn or embroidery needle

 

How to make a paper bird ornament:

step by step guide to making a paper bird ornament

 

  1. Trace the shape of your bird template onto a piece of card then cut this out
  2. Smear glue all over the one side of the cardboard and stick it to your book page. Allow this to dry then cut out the shape. Repeat this using the plain side of the card.
  3. Cut tear drop wing shapes out of the remaining paper.
  4. Edge the bird and wing shapes with the gold pen.
  5. Using the padded double-sided tape, stick the tear drop wing shape onto the side of the bird to give it a 3D effect.
  6. Make two small holes with the yarn needle and thread the bird for hanging on a tree, I found that two holes gives the bird better stability when hung on the tree.

More reasons I’m not reading books

Following on from my post a few years ago about why I’m not reading, allow me to introduce the newest reason I’m not reading books, and not writing reviews of the ones I do get to read.

Erin joined us in April, and between being pretty tired juggling pregnancy, a toddler and work I haven’t had much energy to write blog reviews of some of the excellent books I’ve read. She’s definitely worth it though and her big sister is a superfan.

Cloud spotting with her big sister

I’m hoping to start reviewing some more grown-up books soon, but in the meantime feel free to ask me anything about picture books. I read about ten of those a day. I might even start reviewing them.

World Book Day 2018

Before I had Phoebe, I always imagined that I’d be really into planning dress up and coming up with costume ideas for World Book Day. After all, books and fancy dress are two of my “things”. Then she arrived and, who knew toddlers could be so opinionated and their mothers so tired that making a World Book Day costume for a preschooler would become a hassle rather than pure fun?

This year, Phoebe wanted to dress up as Kwazii from the Octonauts, but she watches that as her sole TV privilege (then spends the rest of her time role-playing it with me generally cast in the role of a Colossal Squid or Sperm Whale, thanks daughter dearest) instead of reading the books and I was a bit fundamental about insisting that for World Book Day she dressed as a book character. I was willing to compromise at dressing as a Pirate because she does love The Night Pirates with the rough, tough little girl pirates who steal the grown up pirates’ treasure but in the end, she decided that she would like to dress as…..

Room on the broom costumeThe Witch from Room on The Broom. I think she was expecting the full cauldron, cat, dog, bird and frog works, but I didn’t have the stamina for that. It’s hard enough finding a broomstick in February! She had a nice time making an exact replica wand herself (with a little help), and already had the skirt and t shirt. The cloak and hat will come for Halloween and dress up play, and since the cloak is reversible, she can play Little Red Riding Hood in it as well.

I think she looks very proud of her work in the end. I’d imagine she’s cast a lot of spells at nursery today!

 

 

Wait, World Book Day was last week?!

Only kidding. I knew it was World Book Day, just about. I remembered the day before it when the a sign on the nursery door reminded me that children were meant to come in dressed up as their favourite book character. This post is late because I’m too tired to blog any more.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried talking to a toddler about who their favourite book character is, but even a relatively verbose twenty month old can be quite evasive on the subject. Throw in the need to cobble together at short notice a costume that won’t be torn off in a fit of pique and you face a challenge.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Peter Rabbit… or at least, bunny ears and a blue jacket.

 

The costume is, admittedly, not great but I had to admire the spirit in which she wore it. She strutted into nursery and glared at anyone who dared to call her Phoebe. As soon as they called her Peter, she hopped quite happily around the room and settled down quite happily for a snack.

As for me, I’m joining the ranks of parents not quite sure why World Book Day seems to be about dressing up and not, say, reading a book.

Fantastic Mr Fox

You might have guessed from my recent post about my Sass and Belle cushions that I’ve got a bit of a thing about foxes. I’ve been feeling a bit run down at the moment, I just seem to be so busy that when I have a moment to myself I just end up falling asleep so I decided to buy myself a treat to cheer myself up. Meet Mr Cordy Roy Fox by children’s toy maker Jellycat.

I wanted to get Cordy Roy for my newborn niece at Christmas, but as you can guess by looking at his cheeky little face, he’d sold out so I got her a Jellycat raccoon instead who my sister assures me is now her best friend. If you’re looking for toys for children that encourage imaginative play, Jellycat is a great place to look. Not only do they have a great range of animals which includes dragons and woolly mammoths, but they have dolls which map to fairy tales and would make great bedtime story companions.

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Book?

After our visit to Cotswold Wildlife Park today (amazing, go if you can) we popped in to visit my boyfriend’s sister and I read Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Book by Lauren Child with my four and a half year old niece. It’s a great story for children, which sees a young boy called Herb fall into a story book that he has defaced and have encounters with fairy tale characters, including a very bratty Goldilocks. My favourite character was the queen he had drawn a moustache on some time ago.

It’s a beautiful book with a great plot, and while it’s not ideal for young readers who are just building up their confidence because of occasional backwards letters and upside down words, it’s a really fun book to read together. I hope it teaches children to look after their books properly!

I would recommend it to anyone who thought that Goldilocks was a naughty little girl and didn’t understand why she didn’t get into trouble when they were small.

Day 28 – First favourite book or series obsession

I remember this quite clearly because even though I was very small, I was quite naughty and it got me into lots of trouble. The book in question was Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and we had borrowed it from the library for me.

I doubt I could even read at the time, but the brilliant bit of the book was the amazing illustrations of characters from fairytale and nursery rhyme which meant you didn’t need Mam or Dad to read you the bedtime story, you could tell yourself it. After a fashion.

This was before my little sister was around so I must have been tiny (three or younger) and I didn’t want my book going back to the library. The others could go, but this was my favourite, so I hid it in the back of my toy cupboard and kept quiet when my parents took back the other books we’d borrowed (myself and my two older siblings) and would sneak it out when no one was looking.

I got in quite a bit of trouble when the library fines arrived. I might actually buy myself a copy of that now. For the memories.

What-the-Dickens by Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is probably best known for his Wizard of Oz spin off, which despite its flair, owes some of its fame to the cult status of The Wizard of Oz and the runaway success of the musical version of the book, Wicked. However, in his modern fairytale What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy, Maguire shows that he has the ability to craft his own fantasy world securely within the familiar confines of our own.

Ten year old Dinah waits with her big brother, little sister and adult cousin for her parents who have left the house during a deadly storm to find insulin. Their neighbours homes have been evacuated, but the family’s strong religious conviction has made them attempt to weather it out. With little food and no power, their older cousin Gabe tells a story to pass the time.

The story, he says, is a true one which happened to him during his child hood, and explains how What-the-Dickens, an orphaned skibbereen, or tooth fairy to you and me, comes to find his place in life, facing deadly challenges and making friends along the way.

Even as an adult I found the story charming and funny. If I was still teaching, I would include it in a scheme of work for 11-13 year olds. It’s an excellent starting point for exploring fairytales and mythology, as the modern setting takes us away from the traditional men-in-tights-and-women-in-need-of-a-bloody-good-haircut scenarios children expect from a fairytale. It’s also a lovely little tale about culture, identity and self belief.

If you have a small person between the ages of 9 and… well I refuse to stick an upper age limit on it, then you should get this book for them. Read it yourself first though!